If the goal of the NBA teams competing at this year's Summer League in Las Vegas is to develop and evolve their first- and second-round talent, the goal of the D-League Select team has been simply to win.
Led by Santa Cruz Warriors guard Stefhon Hannah and the defensive presence of center Mickell Gladness, the D-League Select team is one of four undefeated teams remaining in Las Vegas. It is, no doubt, the surprise of the summer schedule.
"It feels right. It feels like it should," Santa Cruz Warriors assistant coach Casey Hill told SantaCruzBasketball.com earlier this week. Hill holds a similar position on the D-League Select team under head coach Alex Jensen of the Canton Charge.
"The D-League Select team comes to the Summer League with one goal in mind, and that's to win games and get guys exposure. And I feel like that's what we're doing," Hill added. "The guys have really kind of bought into what we're trying to do, and it's showing."
The Select team has jumped out to a 4-0 record and earned a spot in the quarterfinal round of the Summer League's tournament bracket. They will play the Charlotte Bobcats Saturday at 5 p.m. on NBA TV.
The Bobcats, who are 2-2, have been led by first-round draft selections Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller, among others.
The Select team isn't void of similarly recognizable players. Brian Butch, for example, was a standout at Wisconsin. But it is certainly tougher to find them on the D-League squad.
Still, of the D-League players looking to make a name for themselves, perhaps none has raised his game more under the Select-team spotlight than Hannah.
The two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the D-League is already known as a pest on one end of the floor. But in Las Vegas, the University of Missouri product is showing he can be just as bothersome on offense.
Hannah is leading the Select team with 14.8 points per game and shooting nearly 55 percent from the field. In a little more than 23 minutes of action, Hannah has also chimed in with 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals through four games.
In its opener last Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Hannah poured in 23 points on 8 of 11 shooting, including 4 of 6 from behind the arc, to lead the D-League in an 83-81 victory.
Meanwhile, his Warriors teammate Gladness is doing what he made a habit of when he played in 49 games last season in Santa Cruz: block shots. The 6-foot-11 center is averaging 1.3 blocks per game, despite playing just 15 minutes per contest.
"The good thing is, all these guys are vets," Hill said. "They've been around the D-League long enough to understand the process and I think we've got an upper hand in terms of how prepared we can be."
Getting to this point hasn't been without a fair share of grind-it-out wins, though. The Select team erased a 13-point deficit on Thursday night to upend Shabazz Muhammad and Minnesota again, 83-75. It also battled back from an 11-point hole to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 82-75 on Tuesday.
But there's perhaps no better way of getting the attention of the NBA clubs -- and the scouts, general managers and coaches in attendance -- than winning.
Initially glossed over by those NBA teams when it came time to picking and choosing their own summer league rosters, players with the D-League Select team have performed with a collective chip on their shoulder.
Winning the summer league tournament, which perhaps means little to the first-round talents on those other teams, would go a long way for the D-League prospects.
"I think, for the most part, when guys from the D-League come to Summer League and they play as well as they have been, it does two things: It helps them individually, in terms of what they can provide to an NBA team and what they can show, but it also helps our league. It helps the D-League," Hill said. "It really helps us basically show that we're not a joke. We're here. We're really good. And they've got to pay attention to us."
AT A GLANCE
NBA SUMMER LEAGUE
Here's a look at how some of the players who competed for the Santa Cruz Warriors last season are doing in Las Vegas.
Stefhon Hannah, D-League Select: Hannah is leading the team with 14.8 points per game on .543 shooting
Mickell Gladness, D-League Select: The 6-foot-11 center is averaging 1.3 blocks per game
Travis Leslie, Miami Heat: Dropped 23 points on 9 of 13 shooting against the New York Knicks on Wednesday
Kent Bazemore, Golden State Warriors: Second-year shooting guard is averaging 18 points and six rebounds in nearly 30 minutes per contest
Scott Machado, Golden State Warriors: True point guard is averaging 2.8 assists and 4.3 points per game
Jeremy Tyler, New York Knicks: Picked up where he left off in D-League by leading Knicks in scoring at 12.8 points per game
Cameron Jones, Golden State Warriors: Started all four games, guard is averaging nine points on 47 percent shooting
Lance Goulbourne, Golden State Warriors: Showing presence on the glass by averaging 5.5 rebounds to go along with 6.8 points per game
Chris Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves: Post player filled the stat sheet by averaging 7.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 blocks per game